In this post we will be looking at History of Port Harcourt city, Its Geography, Environmental concerns and Greater Port Harcourt.
Port Harcourt is the capital and largest city in Rivers State, Nigeria. It is the fifth most populous city in Nigeria after Lagos, Kano, Ibadan and Benin. It lies along the Bonny River and is located in the Niger Delta. As of 2016, the Port Harcourt urban area had an estimated population of 1,865,000 inhabitants, up from 1,382,592 as of 2006. The population of the metropolitan area of Port Harcourt is almost twice its urban area population with a 2015 United Nations estimate of 2,344,000. In 1950, the population of Port Harcourt was 59,752. Port Harcourt has grown by 150,844 since 2015, which represents a 4.99% annual change. Historically it has been known as Obomuotu Country within which a few other smaller areas were called Diobu or Igweocha (city). The area that became Port Harcourt in 1912 was before that of a farmland of people of Rebisi (Ikwerre). The colonial administration of Nigeria created the port to export coal from the collieries of Enugu located 243 kilometres (151 mi) north of Port Harcourt, to which it was linked by a railway called the Eastern Line, also built by the British. Port Harcourt’s economy turned to petroleum when the first shipment of Nigerian crude oil was exported through the city in 1958. Through the benefits of the Nigerian petroleum industry, Port Harcourt was further developed, with aspects of modernization such as overpasses, city blocks, and taller and more substantial buildings. Oil firms that currently have offices in the city include Shell and Chevron. There are a number of public and private tertiary institutions in Port Harcourt. These institutions include Rivers State University, University of Port Harcourt, Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic, Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Ignatius Ajuru University, Rivers State College of Health Science and Technology, Madonna University, PAMO University of Medical Sciences, New Open University of Nigeria. The current mayor is Victor Ihunwo. Port Harcourt’s primary airport is Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, located on the outskirts of the city; the NAF base is the location of the only other airport and is used by commercial airlines Aero Contractors and Air Nigeria for domestic flights.
HISTORY OF PORT HARCOURT CITY
Port Harcourt was founded in 1912 by Frederick Lugard, governor of both the Northern Nigeria Protectorate and the Southern Nigeria Protectorate. Its purpose was to export the coal that geologist Albert Ernest Kitson had discovered in Enugu in 1909. The colonial government caused the people of Abuloma to cede their land, and in 1912 the building of a port-town was started. Other villages that were later absorbed into the city included Oroworukwo, Nkpogu, and Rumuomasi; In the creeks to the south of the original port were the fishing camps and grounds of the Wakirike-Ijaw group. During the First World War, Port Harcourt was used as a point for military operations against the Central Powers in German Kamerun. After the discovery of crude oil in Oloibiri in 1956, Port Harcourt exported the first shipload from Nigeria in 1958. Port Harcourt became the center of the Nigerian oil economy and it subsequently reaped benefits of its associations with the petroleum industry by undergoing modernization and urbanization. Port Harcourt’s growth is further due to its position as the commercial center and foremost industrial city of the former Eastern Region; its position in the Niger Delta; and its importance as the center of social and economic life in Rivers State. After the Republic of Biafra seceded from Nigeria in 1967 Port Harcourt fell to Nigerian forces on 19 May 1968. From an area of 15.54 km2 (6.00 sq mi) in 1914, Port Harcourt grew uncontrolled to an area of 360 km2 (140 sq mi) in the 1980s.
The main city of Port Harcourt is the Port Harcourt City in the Port Harcourt local government area, consisting of the former European quarters now called Old GRA and New Layout areas. The urban area (Port Harcourt metropolis), on the other hand, is made up of the local government area itself and parts of Obio-Akpor and Eleme accordingly. Port Harcourt, which is the current capital of Rivers State, is highly congested as it is the only major city of the state. In 2009, a law was passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly and governor Amaechi’s administration to spread development to the surrounding communities as part of the effort to decongest the Port Harcourt metropolis. The Greater Port Harcourt region, spans eight local government areas that include Port Harcourt, Okrika, Obio-Akpor, Ikwerre, Oyigbo, Ogu–Bolo, Etche and Eleme. Its total population was estimated at 2,000,000 as of 2009, making it one of the largest metropolitan areas in Nigeria. But that number has greatly increased according to recent studies.
Residents of the city started experiencing particle (soot) pollution since the last quarter of 2016. Residents state their clothes and everything outside is covered with a layer of black soot. Official PM2.5 information from the state’s environmental commissioner, Roseline Konya, states a high reading of 270 micrograms per cubic meter for air pollution in the city from a 2016 sampling. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) index air quality index (AQI), a reading of 0 – 50 is good, readings between 200 – 300 which Port Harcourt falls under is considered unhealthy for everyone and E.P.A advises residents of such areas to avoid heavy and prolonged exertion, and move activities indoors. “For a 15-month period ending in June  … air quality was in the unhealthy range on 240 days, with 85 days ranking very unhealthy, and 13 days as hazardous.” The Ministry of Environment took action by analysing air samples from various sites in the city and found out to be 11 times higher than WHO specifications for PM2.5 and PM10. This non-compliance was tackled by shutting down the Chinese Government Company (CGC), H&H Engineering Company, and AUC Asphalt Company located in Aluu community, found to be the location of high-volume discharge of emissions thereby contravening environmental regulations. Illegal refineries, burning of tires, gas flaring, liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations and processes, petro-chemical companies, and refineries were other suspected sources of soot pollution.
Port Harcourt is a major industrial centre as it has a large number of multinational firms as well as other industrial concerns, particularly business related to the petroleum industry. It is the chief oil-refining city in Nigeria and has two main oil refineries located at Eleme. Both refineries process around 210,000 barrels of crude oil a day, both operated by the Port Harcourt Refining Company. Rivers State is one of the wealthiest states in Nigeria in terms of gross domestic product and foreign exchange revenue from the oil industry, crude oil being its principal export earner. Micro apartment architecture is quite common in certain parts of Port Harcourt. The Point Block of Rivers State Secretariat is an icon of the city. An 18-story building, it is the tallest building in the South East and South South geopolitical zones combined.
Like other cities in the country’s south, the predominant religion of Port Harcourt is Christianity. Roman Catholics make up a significant portion of the Christian population. There are scores of churches, parishes and priests within the Port Harcourt Catholic diocese. The central church is the Corpus Christi Cathedral Parish in D-line. The city is also home to other Christian denominations such as Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Jehovah Witnesses and members of Evangelical and Pentecostal groups. A very small number of residents adhere to the Islamic faith.
The Port Harcourt Book Festival, formerly known as Garden City Literary Festival remains one of the city’s most important and popular events since its inception in 2008. Established by the government of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the yearly gathering improves local literacy levels, promotes reading habits among denizens, and benefits exhibitors seeking wider audience. Throughout its annual run, Port Harcourt Book Festival has hosted renowned publishers such as Heinemann, Learn Africa Plc, Africana First Publishers and EPP Books Services. The festival currently continues to draw writers, literary connoisseurs, booksellers and publishers from every walk of life to the city. In July 2012, UNESCO, IPA, IBF and IFLA named Port Harcourt the World Book Capital for the year 2014, making her the 14th city in the world to be selected as World Book Capital and the first in Black Africa.
Colleges and universities
Several institutions of tertiary education in Port Harcourt offer a wide range of professionally accredited programmes and qualifications. Most of these institutions are publicly funded, while others are run by private entities. The University of Port Harcourt was ranked sixth in Africa and first in Nigeria by Times Higher Education in 2015.The federal government owned university has its main campus at Choba district. Universities and colleges administered by the Government of Rivers State are also located in the city. They include Rivers State University, Kenule Beesor Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic (Former Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori), Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education and Rivers State College of Health Science and Technology. The notable private institutions are Catholic Institute of West Africa and Eastern Polytechnic. While the latter is the first and only private polytechnic established in the state.
Primary and secondary schools
This is a list of notable schools in Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State, Nigeria. It includes both public and private schools.
GREATER PORT HARCOURT
Under the leadership of former Governor Chibuike Amaechi, plans was announced for the creation of a new city to be called Greater Port-Harcourt City. The new city is to be located at the outskirt of Port Harcourt close to the Port-Harcourt International Airport. The total coverage area for the Greater Port Harcourt city development is about 1,900 km2 (730 sq mi) spanning eight local governments in Rivers State, including Ogu Bolo, Eleme, Ikwere, Etche, Obio Akpor, Okrika. The Authority (GPHCDA) was established by law in April 2009 with a mandate to facilitate the implementation of the Greater Port Harcourt master plan and build the new city. The Authority is led by an administrator, Dame Aleruchi Cookey Gam, supported by a pioneer management team comprising the Secretary to the authority and Board, Dr Silva Opusunju, Director Finance Aaron Obelley, Director Administration (Permanent Secretary) MI Tella, Director Public Affairs Kenneth Anga, Director Legal Dr. Justice Nwobike, Director Projects Edmund Altraide, Director Development Control Sir Ngozi Worgu. The Greater Port Harcourt city hosted several of the events at the 17th national sports festival tagged “Garden City Games”.